Upon reflection on my bumpy path of self-discovery, I’ve reached the frightening conclusion that I was difficult to love. This truth influenced the way my life turned out. The weight of overthinking bore down on me constantly, suffocating the words before they could escape my lips. I had been conditioned to believe that expressing my true emotions only invited disappointment and that my feelings would never measure up to expectations. Trust, a fragile thread woven into the fabric of relationships, avoided me like a distant mirage. I never knew what it meant to be someone’s priority—to be more than just a fleeting choice, an afterthought. And so, I pushed people away, convinced that their lives would be better without the burden of my presence. I sabotaged moments of happiness, building walls to shield myself from the inevitable pain of vulnerability. In the respite of my mind, I convinced myself that I was natively unlovable. Yet, amidst the chaos of despair, I found a flicker of resilience—a stubborn refusal to surrender to the darkness. I persisted, not because I desired to, but because I deserved to discover the taste of self-empowerment, the exhilaration of not abandoning myself. In the desolate landscape of loss, I stood alone, a solitary figure grappling with the echoes of abandonment. I fought for those who slipped through my fingers, while not a single soul extended a hand to pull me from the abyss. This, this was my pain—a solitary journey through the labyrinth of heartache and longing. My quiet mentor was the bison, who stood firm in the face of a storm and represented unreserved resolution in the face of difficulty. Like the bison, I trudged onward, soaked in the torrents of pain and sadness, yearning for the elusive embrace of happiness. My appearance, etched with the scars of battles fought in the shadows, contradicted the turmoil within. Beneath the disguise of stoicism lay a soul grappling with the complexities of existence—a soul striving to find peace amidst the chaos. Emotionally consumed, morally exhausted, spiritually adrift—I was a vessel drifting in an ocean of uncertainty, anchored only by the facade of a smile. The nights stretched into infinity, haunted by thoughts that circled like vultures, tearing at the seams of sanity. The world, a canvas painted in shades of paradox, offered little comfort in its contradictions. In life, tears flowed freely at the altar of departure, yet indifference reigned in the presence of those who walked amongst us. It was an odd contradiction that showed how unpredictable human connection could be. Death, I’d come to understand, was not the greatest loss. The greatest loss was the slow erosion of the soul, the silent end of hope and passion while still walking into the realm of the living. In darkness, I clung to fragments of wisdom—a sign of light in the abyss. In the words of Albert Einstein, “If you judged a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it would live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I refused to be defined by the standards of a world that failed to comprehend the depths of my being. So I went forward, a lone traveler navigating life’s turbulent seas and looking for purpose among the ruins of hopelessness. Because I heard echoes of resiliency among the quiet of sorrow, that was evidence of the spirit that was unbreakable inside.

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy

When I go back and consider my life’s path, I can see that the times that most affected me were also the times that I needed the most support. I was always the child who was different from the norm, somehow quiet, but in a way rebellious. My obsession with reading was over my social life. I was that daughter who used to isolate myself in the world of stories and my imagination, and that became the lens I viewed the entire Universe. Being called my mothers’s wild child resonated within me and it was a label that didn’t bother me. I was the one who ran through fields barefoot, unafraid to climb trees and take unknown paths in life. My spirit refused to conform, and I refused to trim my hair and lower my voice to fit society’s expectations. Life, as I came to understand it, was far too fleeting to engage in the petty games that consumed so many. Despite the consequences, I spoke the truth and adopted an unapologetic attitude. Who cared about the aftermath? I could learn a lesson or I could accomplish my goals, why would I be afraid to turn conversations into a learning experience? It could be uncomfortable, but was also a win-win scenario, and it was worth the risk because I discovered the seeds of healing despite the reasons that destroyed me. I was going on thin ice and every break spun me into a dance of self-discovery, a turning point of inspiration. I found the raw beauty of sorrow and sincerity through broken parts. I found the unrestricted ability to express who I am, to stand up to societal expectations, and to accept my reality. I accepted what had broken me, and in its depths, I had found the answer to recovery. I might be the wild girl, untamed and irrational, but I enjoyed the waves of life, taming it with a determination to be true to who I am.

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett

Reflecting on past experiences, I realize how often I’ve been that woman who never asked for help. It’s not that I didn’t need it; it’s just that I preferred to suffer in silence, hiding my struggles behind a facade of strength. If you paid attention, you could hear the silent cries for help in the music I played, the speed at which I drove, and the relentless pace of my work. I was screaming without uttering a word, hoping someone would notice the turmoil within me. Sure, people saw the surface—a pretty face, perhaps—but did they see me? Did they notice my avoidance of eye contact and my discomfort with compliments? Did they observe the way I found comfort in the little things, or how I became a chatterbox when joy overwhelmed me? Did they see the weight of expectations I placed on myself, the constant battle with self-doubt and fear of failure? Did they understand my need for support, for someone to stand by me through thick and thin? I refused to beg for help; instead, I used extended hours at work, a lot of coffee, and restless nights to disguise my misery. The music got louder in volume, disconnecting me from my surroundings and the world around me as I struggled. I determined not to allow anyone to exploit my weaknesses in the future, so I fought my battles alone. But here’s the truth: I wasn’t a babe in distress waiting for rescue. I was a warrior, fighting battles no one else could see, craving nothing more than a moment of respite. I didn’t need saving; I needed understanding. I needed someone to recognize the strength in my silence, to offer a shoulder to lean on when the weight became too much to bear. I wasn’t looking for a hero—I was looking for a companion, someone who understood that even warriors need moments of rest.

“It’s only after you’ve stepped outside your comfort zone that you begin to change, grow, and transform.”
― Roy T. Bennett

Reading was more than a simple hobby or a diversion, it saved me. Throughout my deepest moments, it was an anchor, a lifeline that brought hope. I have been asked what made me read and many disbelieved my motives. Those were unable to appreciate the impact of books on my life. I was recommended therapy and treatments, not books. But to me, the answer was simple: I read because the world as it was not enough for me. I found refuge from the chaos that engulfed my reality in the vast range of pages and paragraphs. I could travel through time, and explore intimately human experiences all within the pages of a book. Every phrase was a thread that connected the many strands of my imagination and took me to places far outside of what I thought was possible. You see, much of life was lived within the chambers of our minds. It was where dreams took flight, where memories were carved, where fears sneaked in the shadows. So I deliberately decided to create a haven in the back of my mind, one filled with all the richness of literature and echoing with the sounds of tales still to be told in every corner. In a world filled with uncertainty and confusion, reading became my relief, my anchor during the storm. It gave me comfort when I felt that the weight of the world would break me and gave me hope when I saw that darkness was near. Through endless book pages, I learned about the infinite depths of understanding and empathy. I walked in the shoes of characters whose struggles mirrored my own, and in their triumphs, I found the courage to face my battles. But perhaps, above all else, reading taught me the power of introspection. I was motivated to go into the depths of my mind and confront the horrors that lay hidden within by the process of self-discovery, an attempt to reveal the reality buried under the surface. So, when asked why I read, I couldn’t help but smile at the simplicity of the question. I read because, in the vast range of literature, I found a home—a place where the cage of reality faded away, and the boundaries of imagination knew no limits. I read because, in the refuge of books, I discovered that the most extraordinary adventures awaited those who dared to turn the page.

“Even if you cannot change all the people around you, you can change the people you choose to be around. Life is too short to waste your time on people who don’t respect, appreciate, and value you. Spend your life with people who make you smile, laugh, and feel loved.”
― Roy T. Bennett

Walking away changed everything. It was a turning point in my life when I decided to accept real connections and let go of drama and destructive relationships. I wanted to be surrounded by positive, funny individuals who could elevate my spirits and make me laugh instead of cry. I also discovered how to release myself from the negativity that imprisoned me. I turned my attention to the positive and treasured the happy and appreciative moments that scattered themselves like confetti throughout my days. I wanted life’s simple choices, a quaint cottage, evenings illuminated by candlelight, foggy mornings covered in mystery. I learned about “glimmers”—those brief moments of joy and calmness. I made it a daily habit to look for these little gems and to appreciate their brilliance, treating them as priceless stones found randomly throughout life. I found peace in kindred spirits—those who shared my dark sense of humor, who understood the struggles of mental health and embraced them with empathy and compassion. Gone were the days of searching for someone to grow old with; instead, I reveled in the joy of staying young at heart, of finding a companion in playfulness and wonder. And in the middle of it all, I had a great epiphany—I realized how valuable I am. I refused to settle for anything less than love that was pure and unconditional, that saw me for who I truly was—a flawed yet beautiful soul capable of loving deeply and fiercely. So, I surrendered—to the flow of life, to the mysteries of the universe. Walking away led to a complete transformation, but it also unlocked countless opportunities and a future full of promise. Standing at the start of this new chapter, I realized that the best was still to come. And in that giving up, I discovered liberation—a newfound capacity to welcome change and tenaciously pursue my dreams.

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